Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Just a few Wic-kerman thoughts...

Just a few Wic-kerman thoughts... I got on a bit of a roll...may not be worth reading it all...
Oh, by the way, I just made a Video Telling of my "Dark Days Come to Blaenkych" story if anyone is interested:
Among the great things about the original movie was the way it handled gender polarity. The men of the island were allowed to be gregarious and loud. The women clearly had a "men are so silly sometimes" attitude that both granted the men this freedom and kept them in line. For instance, during the singing of barkeeper's daughter song, the woman is positively blushing, yet she demonstrates her absolute control of the situation and clearly enjoys herself immensely. In our hung-up society, these guys would have been fined for sexual harassment, but in this wonderful Pagan Society it was welcomed and expected, "they were only being men after all," because the women were strong and powerful and not intimidated by male foolishness. Indeed, being secure in their own power, they were aroused by it, as is obvious when they all take to the fields! This is utterly missing in the sequel, where the guys in the restaurant (no longer a pub) sit in fearful silence lest they offend their betters.

In the original, everywhere one looked there were frank symbols of nature and fertility in balance. In the original it is clear that without either gender the Isle would never have worked. As my Welsh Teacher used to say, "In balance there is freedom." Every one of the islanders had a role to fulfill and they each played their parts with gusto.

In the new movie, sadistic women treat males like slaves. Did you notice that only one island man speaks during the entire film? I got the impression their tongues had been cut out, but I'm not sure about that. Its not worth seeing it again to find out!

There was none of the hedonistic playfulness and yearnings in the sequel. In the original, the maidens who danced nude outside of Lord Summerisle's manor house typified the regenerative Earth Mother, the object of the Lord's longing, whose mystical incarnation, Lord Summersisle, looked on in a spirit of near worship and palpable longing and desire. The cop thought it all positively lewd! ...Yet as he peers at the maidens, 'as though through closed fingers,' he too feels the rising yearning of the natural man to merge with the inviting Queen of the Earth through Her nubile priestess daughters; he is drawn to embrace his own concealed Pagan Soul. Symbolically Lord Summersisle was the Apple Isle Lord incarnate who was preparing to welcome his Queen and Equal so that Her annual reign might begin even as his own drew to its seasonal ending. This entire Pagan reality is lost in the sequel.

In this critical scene in the sequel, now Lady Summersisle is in her manor house as a rich overlady overseeing her enslaved kingdom while terrified male servants scramble to do her bidding. The cop is now motivated by suspicion, what is this woman up to? Where is the corpse of the girl? What's she hiding? To his mind, she's nothing more than a demented female separatist cult leader that he is determined to unseat.

In the original, the cop was lead on by the mystery of what he knew he was missing within his own soul, he was drawn by his own ancestral yearnings to live among a people so pure in their lust and zest for life. Symbolically, he was the figure of modern humanity for whom life has become empty of meaning due to the absence of the Lady, emotions, ritual and lust. We can almost see the gradual rejection of his Puritanical faith in the New Religion building as he is drawn more and more toward the Old that still burns deeply within his heart and soul (no pun intended ;-).

The sequel leaves out the school children dancing the May Pole and singing the about Lugh, a powerful scene in the original. The phallic representations are all vile and perverse, stunted, the few goddess symbols are intimidating and fearsome. There is nothing seductive here, only fear and sadism.

I haven't see the original film in years, I'm just going from memory here and I don't want to give too much away for those yet to see it... I need to rent this movie! hehe.

Just a few rambling thoughts,
~John of AllFaith
Cadifor ap Colwyn

1 comment:

Hybrazil said...

I enjoyed your commentary and think it is insightful.

The Wicker Man is consistently underrated as a film. Originally, it was underrated as a poor B-grade B-grade, and in modern times, it is underrated as a schlocky cult-horror film. But, in fact, it is a film that tackles some very modern issues, such as culture clashes, ethnocentricity, and conflicting rights. In terms of 'film as literature', and like many great works of art, it was quite ahead of its time and appreciation is still catching up with the ideas it puts forth.

And then the remake... the remake misses the entire point of the original film. In fact, if you handed the remake to your teacher in high school as a reflection of the original, you would be failed, as it shows a fundamental and complete failure to apprehend the core ideas of the original story.

One of the most important aspects of the original story, of course, is that it challenges the audience to accept the ideas of a radically shifted cultural perspective from their own (assuming that none of the audience came from the mythical Summerisle themselves).

The remake challenges the audience to hate and reject the alternative cultural perspective presented.

Summerisle was almost charming. But in the remake, it is repressive and is nought but a cheeky and sour portrayal of people who might have "alternative" ideas. The original challenges the audience to think. The remake challenges the audience to be reactionary, emotive, and ignorant. Perhaps one day, someone will remake the Wicker Man in a way that gives it back its dignity?